Thursday 8 December 2016

The middle-class teacher who led a secret double life as a porn star

Teaching and porn are transferable skills, says the department head outed as a star of X-rated films. Helen Rumbelow meets the man in question

Published 21/07/2010 | 05:00

Picture posed by model. Photo: Getty Images
Picture posed by model. Photo: Getty Images

Porn is obsessed by double lives. The uptight librarian, the well muscled firefighter, the prim teacher: their work-life balance invariably means letting off steam in extraordinary ways when they get home.

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For the last year of his time as head of department at a respected London secondary school, Ben Garrett was living a real-life version of this porn fantasy.

By day he taught children religion, morals and sex education. But he spent his weekends and half-terms being filmed for hardcore porn movies.

He was finally busted a few weeks ago when a student chanced on photographs of his teacher on a stripping website.

"It's actually a huge weight off my shoulders," says Garrett. "I hadn't realised what a strain it was, leading a secret life."

I am facing Garrett in his house in East London. He suddenly has free time to meet me on a school day. Although he had already told his school that he was resigning at the end of term, when the porn thing broke it was thought best that he didn't go back.

Before I met Garrett, I spent some time looking at the publicity material for his stripper persona, Johnny Anglais, and his porn persona, Jonny Cockfill. The shots are a riot of fake tan and muscle. Women with crazy eyes and long fingernails clutch at him.

Now here he sits with his three-day leg stubble, in front of a shelf full of books on the Holocaust and political memoirs, and others in some of the four languages he speaks. Yes, he is a slab of muscle, the biggest piece of furniture in the room. But how many other adult entertainers cite To Kill a Mockingbird as an influence on their CV?

His secret middle-class life is far more fascinating than the secret porn-star life of a teacher. And that is the bit I can't get to fit.

Garrett's upbringing could not have been more proper. He was brought up in Northamptonshire in England by two maths teachers. , Garrett went to a religious-run school because it specialised in his passion for drama. He wanted to be an actor.

"One thing my parents always told me was, do anything but never be a teacher," he says.

What, including a stripper?

'Well, they didn't mention that. But I'm not sure they taught for the right reasons. Like a lot of teachers, they were fed up with it."

Instead, Garrett read politics at university. Shortly afterwards, in a fit of youthful exuberance, he signed up to be a naked waiter at corporate parties ("Butlers in the Buff!").

"It was for well-to-do ladies who didn't want a stranger thrusting his crotch in their faces. I was well spoken, I got on well with all of them."

His "butler" job attracted an invitation to a porn shoot, and Garrett was flattered and excited -- as you would expect any young man to be.

"There was nothing in my moral fibre that said it was wrong. I had an inkling that it could cause trouble but I didn't want to live my life worried about people judging me," he breaks off this train of thought.

"Of course, I was thinking with my penis as well as my head."

We laugh. That body part has been more of a careers adviser to Garrett than it is for most men.

But in his mid-twenties all this could have been forgotten about.

After some time as a political consultant, Garrett decided that his life was unfulfilling. It was time to become a teacher.

"It was always at the back of my mind that I might get discovered but I was prepared to take that risk. I knew that having done porn would not make me a bad teacher."

Garrett's star rose quickly. Almost as soon as he qualified, he had a job as head of citizenship and personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) at a school outside London.

It seemed as if Garrett was settled: a job he loved and a steady girlfriend who ordered that he give up naked butlering.

But then things started to change again. As a teenager he had decided against acting, as he "wanted to do something more important than prancing on a stage".

But teaching was emotionally draining and the regulations placed on him made it more so.

"Because of the subject I taught and the person I am, the children often confided in me. I came home sometimes in tears, worrying about them."

When his relationship ended, he found time for a new hobby. In his spare time he started training as a male stripper at a London cabaret club just a few miles from the school.

It was an antidote to the atmosphere in the classroom, where "you had to be careful that anything you said could not be construed in the wrong way. "Teachers have to dehumanise themselves. That's what my parents had to do. I couldn't -- whereas cabaret was quite comedic, a little bit like theatre in a way.

"There were alarm bells going off in my head -- not that it wasn't right but that people might see it. I knew I had already created a risk by doing porn before."

Last year, he was again offered porn work, this time for X-rated television channels. He knew now that it was only a matter of time before his double life was exposed.

Were there any advantages to doing both stripping and teaching? "Oh yes: transferable skills! Both, to a degree, are performances. You have to keep your audience's attention."

He has since got into trouble with the tabloids for working in porn without using a condom-- an industry requirement, he claims -- while teaching safe sex to children.

But to my mind there are worse people to be in charge of sex education: he is unembarrassable on the subject.

Certainly the outpouring of support from his former students means that he was doing something right.

A few months later he walked into hallways of mysteriously giggling children and knew immediately that his secret was out -- not just to his school but to his friends and family.

Which disappointed his parents more, that he had become a teacher or become a porn star?

"Neither. It wasn't quite what they expected when their son got great grades at A level, but they said, 'You know Ben, we're more open-minded than you think. All we care about is that you stay in touch'."

I mention the news this week that a primary head teacher managed to earn £200,000 a year. Was money ever a motive for doing porn?

"No. It was helpful but not a main motive."

He wants to make a business in adult entertainment. I ask Garret what would it be like if former pupils came to see him perform.

"Now that would be a bit weird."

Irish Independent

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